Saudi Arabia Launches Solar Energy Program

February 11, 2010

[Washington, DC] --  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has begun building the first solar-powered water desalination plant, the first step in a three-part program to introduce solar energy into the Kingdom. The program, launched by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), aims to help stabilize future power and water supplies inside Saudi Arabia through the creation of solar-powered desalination facilities.

Water desalination is critical to providing clean drinking water around the world. Today, Saudi Arabia produces 18 percent of the world’s desalinated water. By building water desalination plants that run on solar energy, the Kingdom can reduce operational costs and in turn, reduce consumer costs.

Prince Dr. Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad, KACST Vice President for Research Institutes said, “The solar energy program will reduce the cost of producing desalinated water and of generating power for use in the Kingdom, an oil-dependent nation, which has launched a national energy efficiency program."

Saudi Arabia is a prime location to harness solar energy because of its year-round sunshine. The sun in Saudi Arabia emits about 7,000 watts of energy per square meter over an average of 12 hours every day. KACST and IBM have developed a research center to determine how best to harness and repurpose this solar energy and is preparing to implement this state-of-the-art technology.